#AskAlan Is Back!
With thoughts on the APGA, the Netflix show, Will Z’s yips, Clambake icons, Rory’s demons, Bryson’s silence and much more
By Alan Shipnuck
Who comprises your all-time Clambake dream foursome? Two pros, two celebs? @HofSpillane
Bill Murray and Bing Crosby are no-brainers as the two amateurs. With a record-tying five wins, Phil Mickelson has to be one of the pros. But who gets the second slot? Sam Snead won three of the first five Clambakes and has an iconic cool. Jack Nicklaus took three of seven beginning in the late ’60s and gets bonus points for the famous 1-iron at Pebble Bach at the ’72 Open. But I’m going with Johnny Miller. He’s a NorCal guy, and he won a Clambake in three decades. I remember being in his gallery as a teen. Johnny was so funny, basically offering a running version of what he would later bring to NBC. That’s one heckuva foursome.
Can anyone explain the APGA from this weekend? Feels like everyone got let down. @TBromfman
We can all agree the APGA is a noble idea, but the devil is in the details. The tour is all about diversity and inclusion, so officials don’t want to prohibit anyone from playing. That explains how a white dude wound up winning last week at Torrey Pines. I understand the tour’s stance, but it seems like a mistake to give a spot to a grizzled veteran such as Patrick Newcomb, a 31-year-old who has Korn Ferry status and is coming off a win on the Latinoamerica Tour. It’s clear the APGA needs to tighten up its criteria so it’s a launching pad for up-and-comers and not well-traveled journeymen. Perhaps create a cap for how many starts or how much money a player has made on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuits? That would get the APGA closer to its mission to provide opportunities for those who traditionally have not had them.
Can we put an end to course architecture snobbery? Every event at Torrey Pines, people rip the layout but it almost always provides great theater and well-deserved champs. Don’t forget, it’s a city course—it might have flaws, but last I checked Chicago golf is closed in the winter…so suck it, haters. @Elpulpo8888
Tread lightly, fellow traveler! I wrote more or less this same piece last summer from the U.S. Open and some folks are still pissed at me. Pretty much every fairway and every green at Torrey is bracketed by trouble, including gnarly rough. It asks such a simple question: Can you control your golf ball? The best players can, and that’s why they tend to win there. Do we prefer the freewheeling creativity that, say, the Old Course emphasizes? Sure. But we can’t have that every week. Aa you note, the caliber of the winner and the exciting finishes that Torrey so often produces is proof enough the course is doing something right.
“Ozark”? I’m just getting into it.
More anxiety producing, Will Z or Lexi putting to close out a tournament?@jackryderparis
Hoo boy, we really need a mixed-team event with those two as partners. Can you imagine the drama on every green? The existential dread? I love how scrappy both players are, and it’s a pleasure to watch Zalatoris smash the ball, but he’s awfully young to be accumulating so much scar tissue. Thompson is a cautionary tale of what can befall the chronic yipper.
The less he talks, the better. Bryson as a golfer is wildly compelling. As a human? Not so much. I know this is counter-intuitive coming from a reporter, and in general I think it’s ridiculous when athletes boycott the press because we are merely surrogates for the fans and it’s the fans who make professional golf exist…but in DeChambeau’s case, silence is golden. His need for attention and always to come across as the smartest guy in the room leads to all kinds of tomfoolery that distracts from the enjoyment of watching him play.
What are the top 5 courses you are hoping to see and play for your first time this year? @GolfLover67
Oooh, good one. Valley Club, for sure. I was recently in Santa Barbara, Calif., and gazed longingly upon its wondrous terrain. My colleague Laz Versalles knows folks there and we have a standing invitation, so we really need to cash that in. The photos of Gil Hanse’s work at Southern Hills are mouth-watering; because I’ll be there for the PGA Championship I’m hoping to sneak on the Monday after. Prairie Dunes, which I finally played last year, absolutely blew my mind. For me, it’s linked with Southern Hills as one of the two great citadels of the Great Plains, so I’d like to be able to compare them. Same thing with the U.S. Open returning to the Country Club—that place looks pure. I’ve never played anywhere around Boston, and I’m thinking of trying to put together a little road trip pegged to the Open. If so, Eastward Ho! is at the top of the list. That place looks amazeballs. And with the Open Championship at St. Andrews I’ve been daydreaming about Scotland. I’ve been blessed to play all the famous courses over there but would love to do a trip of nothing but hidden gems: Brora, Panmure, Kilspindie, Murcar, Dunavarty, Southerness, Fraserburgh, Monifieth, Forfar, Banchory, Shiskine, Elgin…gawd, just typing those evocative names stirs the soul. The geography is too complicated to hit all of those in one trip, but I’d be delighted to pick off even a couple of them.
Choose your twentysomething fighter this season: Sungjae, Willy Z or Scheffler? @ramshillwil
Im by a whisker over Scottie.
You’re 266 out with a chance to win. With some reported mud on the ball after a long wait to go for the green. Go for the green or lay up? @todgerstone
If it’s me, I’m going 5-iron, wedge. Probably followed by another wedge and three putts. Rory McIlroy is a different animal—he’s one of the greatest fairway metal players of all time. And the 100-yard wedge isn’t exactly his strong suit. So I don’t fault his decision coming down the stretch in Dubai. He was playing to win. Now, if that was the final hole of a major, it probably makes sense to lay up and (theoretically) take bogey out of play and at worst take your chances in a playoff. But Rory has been out there a long time, and I think at this point he needs the juice from a hero shot to keep him going.
Is Rory his biggest opponent right now? @DaveSergent
Having said all of the above, the answer to this question is an unequivocal yes. If the decision on the 72nd hole in Dubai was defensible, well, the execution was abominable: a wipey push-slice that was wet the second it left the clubface. That’s one more demon to wrestle with for a guy who has already experienced so many Sunday letdowns. I stand by my statement from previous #Asks that Rory should take a year off. Recharge physically, emotionally and spiritually and build some competitive hunger. He definitely needs to shake things up.
Favorite 49er of all time, and why is it Steve Young? @jb1983ldjm
It’s J.J. Stokes. During an intramural basketball game when we were both undergraduates at UCLA, he dunked on me so hard he apologized. I always respected that.